How do you feel when you see a snake?
Or a frog?
Or a spider?
Or all of the above?
It doesn’t matter if you recoil with revulsion or get pumped up with excitement: the invitation to the Friday Night Walks at Finca Cántaros extends equally to everyone.
This program is one of the many community-based environmental education spaces that FCEA offers for free to the community. Launched in March 2021, it takes place weekly from 6-8pm and is led by our Community Outreach Coordinator Randall Jiménez. The Night Walks provide people of all ages with an opportunity to peer into our forests’ fascinating nocturnal world. A world where participants have respectfully kept their distance as a snake slithers across a path; counted several different frog species speckled across a cluster of plants; or marvelled at a big iridescent spider building its web. Randall always lets Nature dictate the agenda and the route of the activity—participants may decide to follow an interesting call from up in the canopy until they come upon a kinkajou, or stop mere metres from the entrance of the Finca to savour the sight of an uncommon Helmet-headed Lizard.
Some are drawn to the Night Walks time and again (particularly young women) because of an existing curiosity for these and other animals. Others started coming with trepidation and preconceived notions about certain species that are transforming into respect, appreciation or action thanks to their participation.
One woman grew up hearing that the fer-de-lance snake (or terciopelo, as it is known locally) will chase after people in order to bite them. She was surprised when a Night Walk dispelled this long-held myth, as participants were able to observe a terciopelo from a safe distance slithering along its merry way, uninterested in the awestruck human audience. (It is important to note that the terciopelo is indeed venomous and can be aggressive, but typically when one enters it space or provokes it.) Another woman confessed that she has always found frogs creepy, but by attending the Night Walks and coming into contact with frogs on a more continuous basis, the fear is gradually fading. Finally, a participant told Randall she thinks of him and the Night Walks when she finds spiders in her house, and is inspired to gently transport these creatures outside rather than kill them. These anecdotes embody several environmental education objectives that extend across all of FCEA’s programs: help dispel negative myths about the natural world, foster appreciation and motivate positive behaviour change.
So we invite you to come with your revulsion or excitement and let you discover how you might be surprised by Nature—and yourself.